Beginner Needing Advice Right From Buying Stage

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by mwark, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. mwark

    mwark Read Only Funster

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    Hello all,

    I've just registered on the forum. My partner and I are in our 30s, just both resigned from our jobs and plan to set off to Europe for four months in a campervan. I finish up work soon and my partner only finishes in July (unavoidable). Later than we'd like but that's ok. We'll head off mid July. In the meantime, I have to go about the process of acquiring the vehicle and accessories. I have a few months to do it but the sooner it is sorted the better.

    We attended the Peterborough motorhome show last weekend to see in person the choices we had and hopefully firm up what we wanted. We now have mostly decided we'd like a campervan of around 5.5m - 6m length, a converted transit van with high top roof and built in shower/toilet. We only require a two berth van, we don't have children. This was advice we received from a few people at the show when we told them our plans, which is Europe touring from July till November. They most commonly said we don't want something too bulky.

    But I am very confused on how best to buy the vehicle and have a number of questions I'm hoping people could assist with. I realise this site is more motorhome centric but hoping for advice on campervans anyway.

    Firstly our budget is £10000-£20000. I would push up to £20000 for the right vehicle but may have to sell it next year so I'd be hoping to not lose a great deal on that. As mentioned, this will primarily be for Europe touring for four months. We may keep the vehicle after that but that is uncertain and depends on how quickly we find jobs when we get back. We have decided we'd like an internal shower and toilet because we don't want to have to rush to campsites each day, and like the idea of Aires and/or wild camping if this is possible. So the questions:

    1) I am very much NOT a "car guy" but I see it is recommended that you have someone knowledgeable about the vehicles with you when you buy. How do people work around this?

    2) LHD or RHD for Europe touring? I see a long thread about this and the answer seems to mostly be that it doesn't matter a huge deal. I don't want to pay a premium here for a LHD.

    3) Where to buy? You know the budget, so obviously we are looking at second hand but for something not terribly old, in order to minimise chance of engine troubles. As far as I see it I have many options here, ebay, autotrader, this website, gumtree, etc.

    4) Buying from Europe? I will have a few months free from work before we start off, so heading across to Germany to buy something is actually an option for me. This means we can get a LHD and also because of the weak Euro, we may find better value there. What are thoughts on this?

    5) Buying a regular second hand transit van, perhaps with warranty, and getting it converted. This seems to work out roughly similar in price but means it opens up more choice of vans and possibility of warranty. Is this feasible? Pitfalls? If so, can anyone recommend reputable conversion companies? (We're in London, but I can travel).

    6) Is there a buyers guide somewhere, that explains what to look out for?

    Well thank you, I'll leave it there for the moment. I'm sure I'll have more questions in the future and I hope I am not just repeating stuff that has been asked many times before. If so, please just direct me to old threads or FAQs.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. Bluestar

    Bluestar Funster

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    Well you need something that's going to be reliable, you can get European cover for breakdown, make sure your insurance covers you for European travel for that length of time.
    If you are thinking of staying abroad longer you can get into laws that require you to import the vehicle very expensive and not easy, left hand or right hand drive is not a major problem although it will effect your insurance, just a few pointers I'm sure others will chip in.
     
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  3. Hollyberry

    Hollyberry Funster

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    Click on Jim's Shop ( right of screen) there's an Ebook you can download. I can recommend it!

    Welcome too Fun, well worth your £10 subscription and you'll be able to tell us all your European travels as well as ask for help/ advice whenever you need.
    :welc:
     
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  4. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    I see your location is London..
    Make sure you are aware of the LEZ and what is / is not acceptable, it's been seen on here before where people spend ages looking at vans etc then find out they live in the LEZ and would never be able to get the van near their location...

    LHD/RHD not much of an issue.
    With your short timescale and limited knowledge I would stick with a UK van ready converted, less hassle and you avoid any potential delays in getting it re-registered etc.
    LOTS OF SCAMS out there.. Be fully aware and never part with any cash till you see the physical van..
    Pay a tenner and join here as a subscriber, then you have full access while you research plus will be useful when your travelling. May be the best cash you spend.

    good luck.
     
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  5. TUCANO

    TUCANO Funster

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    I would agree that paying ten pounds to fully join this site will be the best money you will spend.
    There is a guide to buying vans somewhere, think it is part of the MMM magazine which is a good mag in itself, published monthly.
    A panel van has limited storage compared to coachbuilt vans and the layouts are a little restricted in choice naturally.
    LHD/RHD makes little difference as it is very easy to adapt.
    When you have narrowed your choice to a particular make/model then try a dry run of all the facilities, for example, is the shower wide enough, can you sit on the loo without your knees sticking out into the kitchen, is the bed comfortable, does it have DAMP.
    Try to take a friend with you who knows what to look for.
    Take your time and enjoy the hunt.

    Norman.
     
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  6. DanielFord

    DanielFord Funster

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    Firstly I need to say :welc:

    Ok that out of the way, first thing I would say, go to the top of your budget and buy the best you can. Bear in mind you are going to travel for 4 months in Europe, are you sure 2 berth is big enough? The more space the better is my motto, only you can answer that.

    There are some more meets going on in the near future, I am sure you could pop along and get more advice from us lot here, and I'm sure most would be happy to share our experiences of motorhoming. The Newbury show is happening in May, maybe you could pop along to that?

    To answer specifics, yes you really do need someone who knows what they are doing. The standard Fiat/Peugeot/Citroen setup with the 2.3TD engine is practically bullet proof, but that doesn't mean there aren't some duds out there. Anyone who won't allow an independent inspection should instantly be discounted. Also, the same with the habitation, a reasonable seller should not object to a habitation inspection prior to your purchase!

    Where to buy is tricky, I would be very suspicious of ebay and gumtree, way too many scammers on there. I'd look to auto trader personally, many dealers advertise on there also. May be worth googling the exact model you want (if known) to see if there is one for sale locally.

    LHD/RHD makes no odds, you aren't going to overtake anyone ever, accept that as fact! :D

    I wouldn't buy from Europe, especially since it sounds like you want to sell after your adventure, buy in your own country.

    Finally yes you can buy and convert, but since above you say you aren't a car guy, scan these forums and see the work that people put into these conversions, can you reasonably spend that amount of time/money? There are some spectacular conversions, I can't remember his name for the life of me at the mo, but one of our members is converting a coach into a motorhome that is just stunning, I'm sure he'll pop up and explain the pitfalls.

    And for the buyers guide, look no further than Jims shop :D
     
  7. Hollyberry

    Hollyberry Funster

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    Long terming in your vehicle is very different to a short holiday from home.
    You need to carry more of everything---bedding,clothes, footwear, coats, paperwork, as well as cooking stuff, books, personal stuff. You need outdoor chairs, table, maybe a mat.
    Storage is key. I full timed for a short while, just one adult and I filled every cupboard of a 4 berth motorhome.
    I've downsized now to a converted van. It's big enough for me for a week away, but couldn't do huge time away in it.

    This weekend,find the nearest place with a lot of Motorhomes for sale. Sit in everyone, just get the feel for layouts, what storage there is, what different beds they have. Don't buy! Don't get talked into anything, just have a day trying them out. You'll be surprised what you decide you don't want!

    Meant to say too----Europe far more geared towards Motorhomes than Britain. Parking in supermarket car parks is usually pretty easy, and lots of towns and villages have Aires just a short walk from shops and markets. I could take my 6.5 metre to local supermarket no problem and could park in Aire in both village and local town, few 100 metres from restaurants, market etc....
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2015
  8. mjltigger

    mjltigger Funster

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    Welcome and good luck with your search.

    First the elephant in the room. You haven't got a van, you self confess to having little or no experience with them and you are planning to Jack it in and sod off for 4 months. You are either crazy or have mahoosive cahonies.. I'm very jealous.

    Right. Self build.. you need to really know what you are doing
    paid build.. I think you'd be very lucky to get the van found, bought and converted in that amount of time
    second hand for 10-20k.. east, plenty out there. Find what you want, keep looking till you find the one you fall for and go for it. I think for the trip you suggest, a transit jumbo with a decent fixed rear bed over a garage would be perfect.. but that's my dream not yours. Layout layout layout.

    BTW.. you will read everywhere that the 'standard' ducatto type van is bullet proof.. you will also read stories that will scare you to death.. the jumbo tranny is a sought after van (not mh) for a really good reason.. I recently spoke to a converter and he said the VW or merc is easier and likely cheaper to buy 2nd hand and just as big.. but for me its the tranny. I've got time to wait for the right one though..

    No Idea if my rambling was useful but I'm going to post it anyway.. good luck and keep us informed so us stuck at homers can travel vicariously.
     
  9. tofo

    tofo Funster

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  10. mwark

    mwark Read Only Funster

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    Thank you for the replies. I'm about to head over -> that way and subscribe and buy that ebook. Sounds like good advice. Just to follow up on a few points:

    I just did the LEZ check and found that any converted campervan from 2002 onward in the 2.5 - 3.5t bracket is fine, and anything above 3.5t registered after 2006 is also fine, so I'll narrow my search accordingly.

    I said 2 berth because I meant that we need space for only 2 people to sleep. I'm very happy with more space / berths as long as the van still remains easy to drive around small European city roads. I think this is why people at the motorhome show were suggesting a converted high top van rather than full motorhome?

    As for cahonies, well, not sure about that. This is just what I like to do, mini retirements now early in my life every so often. A Europe campervan trip has been a dream for a long time. Lots of younger people buy cheap vans (£3k) and head off that way all the time, so I'm making the assumption that we can do it too, in a little bit more style :)

    Layout, layout, layout: Very good point and of the ones I saw and "tried", the fixed bed at the rear of the van felt most convenient, with storage underneath. Both my partner and I agreed on that.

    Re converting a van. I definitely did not mean to do it myself (no chance) but I did read somewhere that conversions can be done pretty quickly. I thought I'd even read in a week by professionals who already had standard kits built. Again, if anyone knows of a reputable place that can do this in under a month I really think this opens up more options because a couple of friends in London could help choose the van around here (they work in trades and know a little about the vehicles) and I can then drop the van off practically anywhere in the country for the conversion.

    On that note, if you guys think I'm being too restrictive by choosing a standard converting transit type van rather than something else, please let me know. Ideally, since I am such a newbie, please link something on autotrader so I can associate the image with the words you use.

    Could you please tell me what a "jumbo tranny" is in the van sense. I am not going to type that into google :D
     
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  11. mwark

    mwark Read Only Funster

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    Ah, thanks for the link to Terry's profile.
     
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  12. tofo

    tofo Funster

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    Jumbo tranny long wheelbase high top
    Transits are difficult to get across the rear beds in
    Think lengthways one each side for beds in a transit
     
  13. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    Hi Mark have a quick look
    http://terryshbautocampers.co.uk/category/transitmarch2014/
    that transit is for sale only been slept in 4/5 times by myself (at funster meets)-It's on a forecourt up Durham @ 20k been there since October -I can bring it back down here and if you want it 14 k will buy it --View it at Durham and let me know - it's dead money and time it went -The dealer put the extra money on top for himself not me ;)
    terry
     
  14. mwark

    mwark Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Tery. That van looks very much like what we had in mind, except for the fixed rear. I think we would prefer a bed at the rear with under-bed storage. But we'll have a talk and perhaps head up to Durham to take a look. I will contact you re fitting a van that we may supply. Thanks again.
     
  15. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    No probs Mark (y)
    terry
     
  16. Gandhi

    Gandhi

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    If I was going for 4 months I'd be looking at as BIG as possible.
     
  17. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    See comments in RED.
     
  18. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    ive got a ready converted ducato 57 plate with all the extras for of grid 225 amps trojan batteries 180watts of solar lpg tank bike rack fixed bed cam belt has been changed well maintained lots of storage three ring cooker oven fridge new water heater propex heating not for sale till mid june but your welcome to look
     
  19. Ethle the wondervan

    Ethle the wondervan

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    Buying Advice:-

    If you find yourself dealing with a lady salesperson, always ask if they take anything off for cash.
    I asked this in a car showroom once and the lady said:- 'Would you mind if I keep my earrings on, they were a present from my mother?'
    ........You never know, you just never know..........

    Good luck in your search. The searching is almost as much fun as 'doing it'.
     
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